Mindset for parents

Discuss the difference between fixed and
growth mindsets.
Learn how and why mindsets influence
student achievement.
Understand why self-efficacy is more
important than self-esteem, and how praise
can hurt student achievement.
Learn how to respond to your child’s
successes and failures in a way that promotes
Mindsets are the assumptions and expectations
we have for ourselves and others. These
attitudes guide our behavior and influence our
responses to daily events.
Dr. Robert Brooks
Take a few minutes to respond to this mindset
Try not to over analyze the questions – just
respond quickly and honestly.
Quiz adapted from “The Curse of the ‘Smart’ Student” at extremebiology.net.
1. My intelligence is something very basic about me that I can’t really
2. When I don’t understand something I like to slow down and try to figure it
3. I am intimidated by academic challenges.
4. I have been told by others that I am smart.
5. Learning is fun.
6. I often feel unmotivated to learn.
7. When I don’t do well in a subject I think that I must not be very good at
that particular subject.
8. When I perform poorly academically I do not get discouraged.
9. When I don’t understand something, I get very frustrated and want to give
10. I shouldn’t have to work as hard in subjects that I am naturally good at.
Give yourself 4 points each time you
answered AGREE to these questions:
1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10
Subtract two points for each time you
answered AGREE to these questions:
2, 5, 8
If you scored:
 less than 5, you have a growth mindset.
 between 5-10, you have a growth mindset
with some fixed ideas.
 between 11-15, you have a mostly fixed
 above 15, you have a solidly fixed mindset.
According to Stanford
University psychologist
Carol Dweck, success is not
determined by innate
talents and intellect.
Rather, success depends
upon mindset – the degree
to which we believe we
have the capacity to
cultivate our intelligence
and grow our abilities.
People embrace fixed or growth mindsets
about all of their qualities, not just
intelligence. Many people believe that our
other qualities – creativity, artistic ability,
athleticism, personality traits – are qualities
with which we are born … or not. However,
Carol Dweck asserts that any and all of these
qualities can be cultivated.
Fixed mindset:
 “When I don’t make
any mistakes.”
 “It’s when I finish first
and it’s perfect.”
 “When something is
easy for me and others
can’t do it.”
Growth mindset:
 “When it’s really hard,
and I try hard, and I can
do something I couldn’t
 “When I work on
something a long time
and finally figure it
Fixed-mindset thinking results in:
 a false sense of superiority, undermined by a
deep sense of self-doubt.
 a fear of failure; refusal to take risks.
 a feeling that failure permanently defines you
as a loser.
 a need to prove yourself again and again.
Fixed-mindset thinking results in:
 the belief that only untalented, ungifted
people have to work for success; effort
somehow reduces you.
 a need for validation and reassurance in labels
(“smart,” “jock”) – whether earned or not.
 a desire to blame others or outside
circumstances when things don’t go your way.
How do Calvin and Hobbes demonstrate the
fixed and growth mindsets?
Growth-mindset thinking results in:
 a love for learning and self-improvement.
 a desire to be challenged.
 a willingness to work for positive results.
 a belief that you can control the outcomes in
your life with effort and practice.
 the ability to learn from mistakes and failures.
 emotional resilience.
How do you respond when your child succeeds?
How do you define failure?
If we want our children to believe in their
potential, how can we encourage them? How
can we build their confidence and selfesteem?
In one study, 80% of parents said it is necessary
to praise a child’s ability in order to foster
Self-efficacy is the belief that you
are capable of accomplishing the
things you set out to do.
A healthy self-esteem results when
a child has a strong sense of selfefficacy. This comes from actual
earned accomplishments, not
piled-on praise.
10 Parenting Tips for Fostering the
Growth Mindset
Model growth-mindset thinking with your
Explain how you deal with challenges and
how you continue to learn.
Don’t label yourself in ways that demonstrate
a fixed mindset:
 “I’m a terrible cook.”
 “I always had trouble in math too.”
Talk about your child’s interests and how he
or she is responding to the curriculum – not
just, “How did you do on that test?”
When discussing school, talk about learning
as a means for personal reward, growth,
intellectual challenge, and opportunity – not
as a means to earn a grade or get into a great
Lowering standards does not raise selfesteem.
Expectations should focus on habits, effort,
and growth, not grades.
Provide students with needed supports (extra
help, additional resources). Don’t assume
that “you could do it easily if you just tried
Work with your child to set goals that are
reasonable and desirable for both of you.
All goals should emphasize growth – the
development of a skill or the expanding of
knowledge. Having innate talent is not a goal
your child can work toward.
When your child succeeds,
talk about the work that
went into the success.
Praise persistence and
perseverance. Focus on the
positive habits your child
practiced and the choices
she made which led up to
the success.
Don’t use labels, and don’t let
your child use them.
Don’t shelter your child from
the realities of failure by
placing blame on others.
Ask: “What can you learn
from this experience? What
could you try differently the
next time?”
Don’t harp on your child’s shortcomings or
past mistakes.
Work with your child to identify strategies for
Involve your child in the problem-solving
process, rather than meting out punishments.
If your child identifies an area of weakness or is
struggling, help your child establish a concrete plan
for improvement.
 Avoid vague solutions:
 Ineffective: “I’ll study more.”
 Better: “I’ll review my class notes nightly and make
flash cards for the difficult concepts.”
 Follow up with your child, and help him evaluate the
process and refine the solution if necessary.
Discuss what habits (focus, goal-setting, daily
practice, commitment) enabled the athlete to
be so successful.
Avoid referring to a star athlete’s “natural”
talent or “effortless” ability.
Talk about famous people who failed in their
early efforts.
The growth mindset is about being a lifelong
learner. Accepting risk and a certain amount
of failure is part of that process.
Is there something you always wanted to try
but were afraid you’d fail? Make a plan to do
it. Allow your child to do the same.
Nine-year old Elizabeth was on her way to her first
gymnastics meet. Lanky, flexible, and energetic, she
was just right for gymnastics, and she loved it. She
was a little nervous about competing, but felt
confident she’d do well. She already knew where
she’d hang her ribbons.
Elizabeth went first in the floor exercises. Although
she did a nice job, the results changed after the first
few girls, and she lost. She did okay in the other
events too, but not well enough to win. By the end
of the evening, she had received no ribbons and was
What would you do if you were Elizabeth’s parents?
Tell Elizabeth you thought she was the best.
Tell her she was robbed of a win that was rightfully
Reassure her that gymnastics is not that important
in the grand scheme of things.
Tell her she is good and will surely win next time.
Tell her she didn’t earn the win.